PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – For the first time since breaking his jaw in March, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby returned to practicing with the team Friday.
Crosby has missed the team’s last 11 games with a broken jaw. Crosby will not be able to return until he gets approval from his doctors. But as soon as he’s given clearance he expects to be back in the lineup.
The Penguins say he will not play in Saturday’s regular season finale against Carolina and there is no timetable for a return to game action.
“It’s nice to get out there with the team,” Crosby said, “and get a full practice in.”
Crosby, 25, had dental work done Thursday and was cleared to return to team practice.
“A couple root canals, it wasn’t a big deal at all,” he said.
Crosby, who has been out of the lineup since March 30 with a broken jaw, he has been skating in full gear. Crosby also had an attachment added to his helmet to help protect his jaw.
Crosby was injured when a shot by Brooks Orpik deflected off of a New York Islanders’ player into his face. He lost several teeth in addition to the broken jaw.
“(Returning) is not really up to me,” Crosby said. “I’ll just keep talking with the doctors. It’s something they have to feel comfortable with the healing. As soon as they say the word, I’ll be ready to go.”
The Penguins captain had been skating with strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar for the past 10 days. Crosby said there hasn’t been much discomfort with his jaw while skating with his protective headgear.
“It’s pretty good,” he said. “I can tell there is something wrong, but it’s not anything that’s been too painful. The last week or so has been pretty good.”
The team also announced defenseman Paul Martin and winger James Neal will return to the lineup for the regular-season finale on Saturday vs. Carolina. They have both been skating for the last 11 days and recently joined team practice.
Martin has missed the last 12 games with a broken bone in his hand, suffered when blocking a shot on March 28 vs. Winnipeg. He said he will wear extra padding in his glove to provide added protection.
Neal has missed the last eight games after sustaining a concussion on April 5 against the NY Rangers.